Throughout the British Army REME personnel are found almost everywhere. At one end of the scale their number would equal an entire company and, at the other (recollections from my own time in uniform), four of the seven regular British soldiers serving with 7th Gurkha Rifles were REME - as was one of the five serving with a battalion of UDR. The REME provides a wide choice of different trades which, in addition to the well-known vehicle mechanic, include aircraft and avionics technician, armourer, recovery mechanic and metalsmith (to name but some). In short, if the British soldier is issued with an item of equipment, the REME is on hand to recover and repair that item when needed. Little wonder it became such a large Corps representing almost 10% of the total strength of today’s British Army.
For those who may not be aware, some regiments and corps have an alternative name for Private Soldier. This is why we occasionally encounter; Gunner, Ranger, Trooper, Kingsman and so forth. In the REME the private soldier is appropriately called ‘Craftsman’ - hence the title of this work.
This is a large book of 642 pages which will be seen as a ‘must’ read for all REME personnel (past and present). It is not, however, the complete history of the Corps. In a manner which befits the largest Corps of the British Army, the task of preparing such a detailed history has been set out in three volumes with Nos 1 and 2 previously published in 1970 (425 pages) and 1997 (752 pages) respectively. It says much for the thoroughness of the various editors/compilers that so much detail continues to be included.
My last army job before retiring was as Paymaster, SEE Arborfield and my commanding officer was Colonel Steven Abate. I was pleased to see his name mentioned as the winner of the Army Alpine Championships in 1994.
Although I have not studied those aforementioned earlier volumes - had they been the story of my own Corps I would have rushed out to find those books ‘missing’ from my own collection and, doubtless learned a lot more than I already knew. If any members of the REME now do likewise, they will not be disappointed.